In the Netherlands, the Boekenweek (book week) is an annual "week" of ten days dedicated to Dutch literature. It is held in March since 1932. Each Boekenweek has a theme. The beginning of the Boekenweek is marked by the Boekenbal (book ball), a gathering that is attended by writers and publishers. Events are held across the country during the Boekenweek, such as book signing sessions, literary festivals and debates.
A well-known writer, usually Dutch or Flemish, is asked to write a book, usually a novella, called the Boekenweekgeschenk (book week gift). The Boekenweekgeschenk is given by book shops upon the purchase of books in the Dutch language or when someone becomes a member of a library. The Boekenweekgeschenk is published by the Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB, Collective Promotion for the Dutch Book). Some authors include Maarten 't Hart (1984), Hugo Claus (1989) and Harry Mulisch (2000). In 2001, the Boekenweekgeschenk was originally written in English by Salman Rushdie and later translated into Dutch.
In the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, the Boekenweekgeschenk was sometimes published anonymously with a list of possible authors inside the book. As a competition, readers could submit their guess as to who the author was by postcard. Since 2002, the Boekenweekgeschenk can be used as a ticket to travel for free by train with the Nederlandse Spoorwegen on Sunday in the Boekenweek.
Since 1987, an essay, the Boekenweekessay, has been written in addition to the Boekenweekgeschenk. The Boekenweekessay can be purchased in book shops. Some authors include Jan Wolkers (1995), Gerrit Komrij (1997) and Adriaan van Dis (2004).
On 15 November 1930, the Dag van het Boek (Day of the Book) was held to protect books from new media, such as radio and cinema. The book De uitgever en zijn bedrijf by Johan Tersteeg was published to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Nederlandsche Uitgeversbond. In 1931 the Boekenweek was not held. In 1932, the first Boekenweek was held and the first Boekenweekgeschenk was published. During World War II, the Boekenweek was not held in the years 1942 till 1945. In 1941, a Boekenweekgeschenk was published but it was withdrawn from the stores due to German occupation of the country.
The Boekenbal (book ball) is an invitation-only event with the Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek (CPNB) deciding the guest list. It is traditionally held in the Stadsschouwburg in Amsterdam. The invitation policy of CPNB has sparked some controversy which has led to a separate event called the Bal der Geweigerden (ball of the refused). It was first held in 2002 in Paradiso, which is nearby the location of the official Boekenbal, and it can be attended by anyone.
Since 1955, a book week for children has been held, called the Kinderboekenweek. It is held in October and it also lasts ten days. Similar to the Boekenweek, a Kinderboekenweekgeschenk is written that is given by book shops upon purchasing literature for children. Some of the authors include Paul Biegel (1977), Annie M.G. Schmidt (1990) and Thea Beckman (1991). Since 1986, a picture book is published for toddlers.
The Kinderboekenweek is also opened by a social gathering, called the Kinderboekenbal.
List of publications
- Minnaard, Liesbeth (2009). New Germans, New Dutch: Literary Interventions. Amsterdam UP. p. 253. ISBN 9789089640284. Retrieved 12 May 2012.
- (Dutch) Boekenweekuitgaven en thema's vanaf 1930, Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek
- (Dutch) Geschiedenis van de Boekenweek, Historiek, 10 March 2010
- (Dutch) Onderzoek Het boek in Nederland 2005, Collectieve Propaganda van het Nederlandse Boek, 14 November 2005, press release
- (Dutch) Bal der geweigerden voor álle schrijvers, de Volkskrant